Updated: Feb 27
One of my favourite regions when I was on exchange in England was Wales and especially the capital city of Cardiff. Located on England’s southwest coast, Wales has a rugged coastline with a distinctive Welsh language, Celtic culture and a dazzling cultures from the story of its national symbol of the dragon to the tales and myths of the many castles it has within it’s regions. It was one of the most hospitable places I have ever been too, a modern nation that infuses its ancient past to form its identity today. I loved the warm hospitality of the Welsh people and the diverse traditions and myths they still carry on to this day. From the distinctive long Welsh street signs to the plays and poets, history definitely lives on for this great culture. Wales and the surrounding cities on the Southwest coast of England all have their distinct charm and elegance, from Victorian architecture and piers to castles inspired by King England I. If you ever visit England and want to check out culinary delights and a small town feel that revivals many of the towns in France, be sure to check out the small towns of Lllandudno and Cardiff in the region of Wales.
1.Cardiff Bay and Wales Millennium Centre
Cardiff Bay is home to the seat of the Welsh Democracy,which has its own devoted legislature and executive in a sustainable state of the art building.When I first laid eye on the Wales Millennium Centre, I didn’t know what to make of it and thought that it was a modern movie theatre. However, it is actually a theatre which hosts plays, reviving Welsh culture and a wide range of events from musicals to stand-up comedies. The modern building is made out of Welsh slate and copper and illuminates at night, which give it it's unique glow. Surrounding Wales Millennium Centre is the bustling seaside port area of Cardiff Bay, which in history was known for exporting coal during the Industrial age to the rest of the world. Around Cardiff Bay today, there is also a harbour where food markets run along the bay along the sea barrage. If you want to take a boat adventure, there are many boat tours running out of the bay that give you a tour of the surrounding attractions. However, watch out as the wind as be quite chilly on the motorboat and dress warmly.
When King Edward I began to assert his dominance over the Welsh people, he built many castles and fortifications in order to justify his power in this region. Caernarfon castle is famously known as the place in 1969 where Prince Charles was invested as Prince of Wales and thus has maintained its historical and famous reputation upon that fact. When I visited, there were school kids also exploring the walls of the castle. This castle was also the birthplace of King Edward the Second and visitors can tour the UNESCO World Heritage Site by wandering the grounds. It was largely symbolic of the greater English dominance over the Welsh peoples when it was built in 1283 CE and is designed to mirror roman architecture. I loved overlooking the the castle walls and discovering secret rooms while walking from different ends of the fortifications. This is a great place to kids to explore, as I noticed some school groups when I went. As always, be sure to check the latest castle updates surrounding regulations on their website.
3. Conwy Castle
Conwy Castle is another medieval fortress that reigns true to Wales’s testament as a city of castles and legends.Built in the 1283 by King Edward I, Conwy Castle has survived the English Civil War and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site today. This castle today is also a testament to King Edwards reign over Wales and his journey in which built over 600 castle in the region of Wales to subue the Welsh population. However, today Conwy Castle and the other castles are more decorated and known for their contribution in a positive light to shape Wales' history and are celebratory, celebrating the unique history of Wales over the years. Overlooking the mountains of Snowdonia and the city of Conwy, Conwy Castle is another one of Wales’s top attractions and was once used to control the main trading route in north Wales,giving it trade and economic importance in addition to strategic purposes.
The largest seaside resort town in England and dubbed as the “Queen of the Welsh Resorts” with views of the Irish Sea, Llandudno is the perfect seaside getaway from the city with Victorian and Edwardian elegance. Home to the North Shore beach and its Victorian style pier, there are also other activities to try with friends and family including taking a cable car towards the Great Orme Complex, tobogganing during the winter and eating the distinct British seaside delicacy, fish and chips.
5.Snowdonia National Park
A popular Park known for its hiking and views, it is a must see when you are in Wales. Mount Snowdon stands at 3,560 ft and contains over 1,500 miles of public footpaths. It is the 3rd largest national park in the UK and contains 15 mountains over 3000 ft, giving hikers many options to choose from when hiking in Snowdonia.There are also many other activities to do here including cycling,climbing and fishing aside form walking and hiking.
1.Distinct Culture and Atmosphere- I loved exploring the Celtic signs along the street and the hospitality of the hotels in Llandudno. The food is authentic and the people are even more genuine; be sure to try the delicious fish and chips at one of the restaurants. I remember vividly the cookies and the large english breakfast I ate while staying at one of the hotels along the seaside.
2. Landscape: The landscape of Wales and the Welsh countryside is very distinct from the rest of England, as you can notice the difference over with 74 nature reserves and many mountains to climb from Snowdonia to beaches and sandy coastlines.The lack of pollution along many of it's cities also allows you to stargaze on some nights and relax with the open wilderness in front of you.
Chelsea Reviews: 4.5/5
Cardiff along with the other cities in Wales are very distinctive and they are culturally distinct, having what London and many of the big cities are lacking: personality. Cardiff presents itself as a modern nation that embraces its ancient roots with it’s castles and myths, but uses modern means: social media and the state of the art architecture to tell its story. Although the history presented by the castles represents some unpleasant times and bloodshed in which the English and the Welsh people fought, today that is celebrated through the stories and the living monuments such as castles.Through Cardiff and Wales, we understand that a nation is not modern by its skyscrapers, but the way that it tells a story in a modern way.